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Singapore Gets Asia’s First Batch of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine

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Singapore received its first batch of Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine today, according to its flag carrier, ahead of a roll-out in the city state that health officials have said could be as soon as two to three weeks away.

Singapore Airlines, which carried the vaccines on board one of its freighters from Belgium, did not specify the size of the batch.

Singapore is the first Asian country to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech shots after it said last week that it had approved the companies’ vaccine.

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Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, 68, has said he would be among the early recipients of the vaccine in the nation of 5.7 million people, which has one of the lowest coronavirus fatality rates globally.

“Delighted to see the first shipment of vaccines arrive in Singapore,” Lee posted on Facebook today, adding that the authorities will announce details of a roll-out in due course.

He reiterated that the vaccination will be voluntary, and that he encouraged Singaporeans to take it.

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The government plans to first administer the vaccine to healthcare workers and the elderly. Health ministry official Kenneth Mak last week said the first jabs could be given “within the next two to three weeks” if safely delivered.

Singapore has kept new local infections to almost zero each day in recent months and will further ease restrictions next week.

It has signed advanced purchase agreements and made early down payments on several vaccine candidates including those being developed by Moderna and Sinovac, setting aside more than S$1 billion for shots.

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Most of the city state’s more than 58,000 coronavirus cases occurred in cramped migrant worker dormitories, but there are some concerns about asymptomatic carriers and undetected transmission taking place.

The government said last Saturday it was investigating whether 13 travellers who tested positive at a five-star hotel in November might have been infected there during their mandatory quarantine, rather than prior to their arrival in the country.

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SOURCE
Author: Aradhana Aravindan
Publication: Reuters
Title: Singapore gets Asia’s first batch of Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine


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